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& Justice In Everyday Life
Review by John J. Daley
Review by Kathy O'Connell
Review by Connie Lepore
12-Minute MBA for Doctors
Review by Richard McGowan
Pursues Justice In Our Own Backyard
By John J. Daley,
August 4, 2002
In the daily newspapers, we don't have the time
to focus on every
misdeed or injustice. The crush of events makes it hard to give everything
its due. Andy Thibault, who writes the Cool Justice column for the weekly
Connecticut Law Tribune, has the extra time and a Jimmy Breslin punch to
take a different look at some issues and people in the news.
Thibault's subjects are often crime or cops, the
law or lawyers, though there's plenty on issues of everyday concern. His
aim is justice in his latest book, "Law and Justice in Everyday
Life," a collection of his columns and other writings just out this
month. It means you'll find many egos deflated and fat cats whipped as he
separates the good guys from the bad. But beyond that, there's some
wonderful writing by a man who truly has that talent.
You'll read about Woody and Mia and Litchfield
County State's Attorney Frank Maco. You'll read about Connecticut's grand
and late state poet laureate Leo Connellan, who considered himself a
working man's poet. You'll get to meet his successor, Marilyn
Nelson, a woman of extraordinary talents. You'll run into a woman locked
in a tower weaving a tapestry of life when you meet the Wadsworth
Atheneum's "The Lady of Shalott." You'll love every minute you
spend with them.
He writes of crimes that have made a mockery of
the justice system, such as the Showalter hit-and-run cover-up in New
London, the town where Thibault grew up. Kevin Showalter, a 20-year-old
Mitchell College student, was struck and killed by a car as he changed a
flat tire on a
well-lighted street. The motorist drove off. Everyone played dumb in the
case. The police barely investigated, and what little evidence they
collected, they tainted. The state's attorney didn't want it
investigated. The presiding judge turned out to be best friends with the
leading suspect, a former New London mayor and multimillionaire jeweler,
Here he is on the high profile investigation by
our famed chief forensic investigator on the death of Vincent Foster:
"On page 485 of his report to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, Dr.
Henry Lee details why he cannot offer a complete reconstruction of the
death of former White House Council Vince Foster. The way I read it, this
core element of the report screams: 'Don't blame me because there was no
Here he is on Title IX complaints: "An old
rule in journalism goes something like this: If your mother says she loves
you, get a second source. Here's a new guideline, not just for
journalists, but also for
parents, athletes and their lawyers: When school administrators say,
'We're in compliance with Title IX,' don't believe it for a second."
There is much here of local interest, from
Michael Skakel, Peter Reilly, the Troopers Mark and Kathleen Lauretano and
the notorious Duntz brothers to the fight to reconstruct Harriet Beecher
Stowe's family's house in Litchfield.
You'll just love some of the sentimental moments,
such as when Thibault takes us back to his Catholic high school:
"These were our Wonder Years: girls with
knee socks, white blouses and gray skirts concealing the mysteries of
life; all our Beatle albums and great 45s sucked up by the mission drive;
nuns, most of whom looked more like Joe Frazier than Sally Field and could
whup Frazier, too. The scenes keep coming back, with greater frequency,
after I walked into a New London restaurant a few weeks ago and said, 'Who
the hell are all those old guys at the bar.?'
"Take a look in the mirror," one of the old
goats responded. We were the deadbeats who didn't make it the night before
to the official 30th high school reunion."
If you wonder how Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim will
fare in his corruption trial, just take a look at his lawyer, Richard
Meehan Jr., who has managed in the past to pull off some courtroom
Of course, we are all concerned about getting to
the beach in Greenwich, if we can ever afford to park there. We'll
let Thibault close this review by doing our shouting:
"It struck me when I saw a bunch of Greenwich
locals freaking out on TV the other day, saying that parking fees of $10
to $30 a day - and additional entrance fees to boot - weren't high enough
to keep out the infidels. What a bunch of slobs. I couldn't see anything
that makes these people any more hifalootin than say, their brethren in
Books Everyone Should Read
Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken," by Terry Teachout. Harper Collins;
410 pages; $29.95
"Law & Justice in Everyday Life," by Andy Thibault; TNT
252 pages; $20
Journalism is a tricky thing, and always has been. Seemingly
civic-minded halfwits who think they can put something over on an
unsuspecting public have been around since the beginning of newspapers, if
not the beginning of time itself.
That was something Henry Louis Mencken came to know better,
and express with more contrary eloquence, than any newspaperman in
American history. It's also something a Connecticut journalist carries
like both a torch and a badge of honor, shedding light into those corners
the halfwits would rather keep dark.
"The Skeptic," by Terry Teachout, and "Law
& Justice in Everyday Life," by Andy Thibault, are two very
different books. One is thick and lavish and took Teachout nearly a decade
to put together; the other is an unassuming-looking paperback that's a
collection of pieces that first appeared elsewhere.
So it's somewhat surprising that Thibault's, and not
Teachout's, is the better book in the long run, and here's why: Though
Teachout's book is well-written and filled with details other biographies
of Mencken have lacked, it feels hurried and breathless, and has more than
a few passages in which Teachout seems to be trying to impress us with the
range of what he knows.
Thibault, however, closer to the spirit of Mencken's
curmudgeonly legacy, is telling his readers over and over again that a lot
of people in positions of power are fools, and dangerous ones at that.
It's particularly that facet of Mencken's talent and
personality that Teachout, for all his hard work and intricate research,
fails to capture. "The Skeptic" is an often aggressively
ordinary book about a man who lived an almost aggressively ordinary life
but who produced some of the most influential newspaper writing of the
early 20th century.
What's good about "the Skeptic" is that Teachout
reminds us that 46 years after Mencken's death in Baltimore - a city in
which he lived all his life, and most of that in the same house at 1524
Hollins St. - he is still a force with which to be reckoned, political
correctness be damned.
William Manchester, who wrote a far better, if not quite as
revealing, biography of Mencken in 1950, "Disturber of the
Peace," has often said that no newspaper in the country would have
the guts to publish Mencken nowadays. His opinions were too prickly, too
apt to offend this group or that.
Yet for all the acidic feistiness of Mencken behind a
typewriter, those who met him were often shocked that they'd just shaken
hands with a man who was unfailingly courteous, even courtly - he was,
after all, born in and shaped by 19th century culture. That's a divide
Teachout doesn't do much to bridge, nor does he ever adequately explain,
as Manchester and others have, what it means to be bitten by the newspaper
bug in all its dubious glory.
At the same time, "The Skeptic" isn't without
value. It's a good introduction for those who've forgotten Mencken, or,
more tragically, never heard of him in the first place. Ideally, "The
Skeptic" should lead those who read it to Mencken's own work, which
was voluminous and is mostly still in print.
That way, readers can decide for themselves if he was, as
some passionately politically correct type insist, a racist anti-Semite,
or a man who wrote what he thought and loved making waves, often big ones,
with those thoughts. The reason Thibault's book is the better one is
because it's an unpretentious series of examples of how entirely too many
people use public service as a rathole in which to hide when they very
At every turn, behavior like that makes Thibault deliciously
angry. Much like Mencken, he knows journalistic objectivity is capable of
being as much of a crock as it is a construct. He documents several
unsolved murders and asks pointed questions about them. He gives credit to
honest lawyers and upstanding jurists when it's due - and goes after them
like a pit bull when it isn't.
There are also some very fine surprises in "Law &
Justice in Everyday Life" that have very little to do with either of
those things. Though Thibault's primarily a columnist for The Connecticut
Law Tribune, he's also written for Northeast and Connecticut magazines,
and his pieces on Leo Connellan, the state poet laureate who died last
year, are worth the price of the book alone.
But wait! There's more! A nifty deconstruction of the Woody
Allen case; a swell defense of a college newspaper from marauding
administrators! Come to think of it, we need both these books, one to
remind us of what the past could be, and the other to keep us mindful of
how the present can turn out if we fail to be ever vigilant.
Not Clueless In Writing Arresting Book
By Connie Lepore
Brainless bureaucrats to murderers masquerading
as acolytes of the law to a detective catching cool, cold-blooded killers
all come under the purview of Andy Thibault in his new book, "Law
& Justice in Everyday Life."
This is an eye-opening blockbuster collection of
essays that one needn't consume at a single on a broad spectrum of topics
that originally appeared in the Connecticut Law Tribune. But the stories
are so gripping, so carefully and seemingly effortlessly crafted, that
many readers won't retire for the day until they have polished off the
Thibault, who's worked in the public and private
sector, has a long background as a journalist and editor at papers near
and far, is a licensed prizefighting judge, a college instructor, an
investigator for law firms and a fellow of the Yankee Institute for Public
The list is a lot longer, which explains in large
part his command and insight on a universe of subjects.
When he writes of the morons at Stonington High
School who threatened to suspend for 10 days a boy who was an unauthorized
candidate for the student government "for inciting a riot," he
does so with a sureness abetted by both personal experience and media
accounts of the alarmingly fast proliferating body of idiots in charge of
Thibault distills the complex tragedy that befell
Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian anarchists hanged in Massachusetts by
reprehensible and bloodthirsty men of the law, to the essential chilling
details in unadorned, sparse prose more writers ought to emulate.
Simplicity of expression is also transparent in
the absorbing account of the former state police detective who nailed
serial killer Michael Ross and tripped up a spouse who murdered his mate
while they were collaborating on a murder mystery.
Michael Malchik also helped hunt down the
murderer, who was a member of Mensa, the group for folks with a high IQ.
After the killer played cat-and-mouse with Malchik and his fellow
detectives, they got their man.
At 20 bucks, the Thibault work is a bargain. It
can be ordered from local bookstores or Amazon.com and bn.com
& Justice in Everyday Life
"Andy Thibault shines a bright light in dark places. There is a
reason Connecticut's Judicial Department refuses to pay for subscriptions
to the newspaper carrying his column. It's called cowardice. Buy this
book, and send a copy to the next judge you meet who thinks his robe is an
invincible shield. `Law and Justice in Everyday Life' is a useful reminder
that, in the end, every case is really a simple human story."
—Atty. Norm Pattis, New Haven, CT
"If Andy Thibault worked and wrote in any number of countries around
the globe, he'd be in jail, tortured and maybe even dead. Absolute
authority always leads to abuse. Andy has championed the right of the
journalist to puncture the pompous pussbag of absolute judicial
—Dr. James B. Irwin, Sr., Chairman, IMPAC
University, Punta Gorda, FL
"While others are out chasing big bucks or building empires, Andy
Thibault is defining self-abnegation by uncovering injustice and mendacity
and especially the distinctive bubble-headedness of officialdom. Let
us be grateful for this book."
—Anthony Dolan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his expose
of police corruption in Stamford, Ct. and former Chief Speechwriter for
President Ronald Reagan; Special Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Defense
"Andy Thibault writes in the grand tradition of H.L. Mencken and Mike
Royko. Thibault knows the judicial system and knows politics from the
inside and out. He doesn't shoot from the hip. He's a careful reporter who
checks his facts. He is a literate, erudite observer who writes with
authority and punch. There is a yearning for, a demand for justice in the
way he puts words together. A Renaissance man as comfortable at a boxing
match as at a poetry reading, Thibault keeps and holds a sense of optimism
even as he scolds legions of movers and shakers who have strayed beyond
the bounds of civilized life in the midst of civilized New England."
—James H. Smith, Executive Editor, Record-Journal, Meriden, CT
"Andy Thibault's columns demonstrate why we need a Fourth Estate. You
will find suffering victims, incompetent justices, criminals protected,
and just about everything else in the dark underbelly of New England. I
will urge my journalism students to read it carefully."
—Roger Desmond, Ph.D., Director, School of Communication
University of Hartford
"I read Andy for information, for the compelling human dramas
he uncovers and for my pleasure in his use of the English language. But I
also read him for a more selfish reason: In reading Andy's columns I am
reminded that there is one thing more important than compromise and
diplomacy -- and that is exercising our freedom of speech in the service
of those who have been rendered impotent by power politics. Just one Andy
Thibault in the
world is enough to show us not only what is possible, but also what is
necessary for us to truly become the land of the free, and the home of the
—Randy Roark, Poet, Boulder, CO
"As a newspaperman for the past 35 years I have witnessed the
ever-diminishing role of blunt, straight-talking journalism. At any
gathering of publishers, the common lament is the mystery of declining
readership, especially among the young. But if more publishers invested in
columnists and reporters like Andy Thibault, I am confident they would
watch readership and paid circulation climb instead of decline."
—Michael Bradley, Publishers Consultant, Cape Cod, MA
who think they know the law will be enlightened; those who care about
social justice will be outraged; and those who care about a good read will
be thrilled. Thibault is one part Thurgood Marshall, one part H.L. Mencken,
and one part Raymond Chandler."
--Christine Palm, Editor, Readings, the Publication of the Connecticut
Center for the Book, Hartford, CT
eloquent and passionate argument for justice, and, in one volume, a
compelling lesson in the history of political and judicial manipulation in
-- Lary Bloom, author of The Writer Within.
has made a career comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
Justice might be blind, but his vision is 20/20 when it comes to how the
system delivers its product every day."
-- Diane Smith, Connecticut
radio talk show host and public
Thibault’s Law And Justice In Everyday Life is an unusual, perhaps
extraordinary book. But then Andy Thibault himself is an unusual, and
probably extraordinary man. In this day and age, he is a bit of an
anomaly, sort of a gunslinger from the Old West, ready to fire at anything
that moves -- especially if he doesn’t take kindly to the movement ...
He is in a way a corollary of Robin Hood; he takes from the powerful and
gives to the weak."
-- F. Lee Bailey, whose clients have included Dr. Sam Sheppard, Patty
Hearst, Albert DeSalvo and O.J. Simpson, in the Foreword to the 2nd
12-Minute MBA for Doctors
by Charles Johnson with Andy Thibault
Michelle Publishing Company
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
102 Pages; Price: $12.
Reviewed by Richard McGowan
Connecticut Jewish Ledger
November 30, 2001
Self-help manuals rarely impact professions other
than their targeted audiences. "The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors,"
however, shatters that myth by providing practical skills for any novice trying
to survive in today's chaotic business world.
You don't have to be a medical professional to benefit
from this fluent and provocative book. Anyone who doesn't know how to
negotiate a lease, hire staff or deal with an insurance company will learn how
to build a successful business.
Written by two Litchfield, Connecticut friends and
neighbors, "The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors" is a lively
collaboration between Charles Johnson and Andy Thibault. Johnson's
firm,Medical Education Training Associates of Woodbury, Connecticut, helps
doctors, bankers and other professionals run their businesses.
A couple of years ago, Johnson delivered a 12-minute
talk before the Society for University Surgeons in New Orleans. After several
colleagues asked for help running their businesses, one of them suggested
Johnson call his program "The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors." A book
Thibault, a columnist for The Connecticut Law Tribune
and a freelance writer for The Connecticut Jewish Ledger, is an award-winning
feature writer and nationally known investigative reporter.
Together, Johnson and Thibault provide punchy insights
in eight chapters on such practical business skills as persuasive communication,
team building and conflict resolution. One section in the chapter on
communication is applicable to the home front as well as the business world.
Johnson asks: "What are the first three answers
you hear from your significant other when you get home. For most people, it's
three words - fine, fine, chicken. Why is that? Simple. The questions you asked
were probably: How was your day? How are the kids? What's for dinner?" Not
exactly great conversation starters.
"After I spent a day with one of my sales
managers," Johnson continues, "I was invited to his house for dinner.
We talked about a strategy before we went home. We walked in the door and he
says hello to his wife. He says, 'Tell me about your day.' She started to
say, "Fine," but then she heard his question. 'Well, the kids and I
went shopping and we went to the park and we played on the swing, and.' He could
actually hear information she was imparting and was able to give her positive
This is just one communication example of trying to
persuade people with your people power instead of your position power.
Communication, the book notes, is one of the five components of a successful
team, along with leadership, defined roles, clear objectives and trust. Specific
chapters deal with negotiating skills, interviewing and hiring skills,
understanding financial issues, strategic and tactical planning, teamwork and
As Johnson and Thibault detail, surgeons are still
trained like blacksmiths. Although they are at the pinnacle of their profession,
they tend to know little about business - after four years of college, four
years of medical school and then five more years of residency and fellowship
education. They are turned loose in their early to mid-30s and expected to run a
business that is not run by their peers.
Today, health care is run more and more by business
people - not doctors. Hospital administrators tend to be business people.
Insurance companies have everything to do with the running of health care today.
Yet the highly skilled physician, untrained in management and economic matters,
has to deal on an everyday basis with people who run business. How does he get
his business started and survive?
The answers are in this book. But readers from many
other disciplines will benefit significantly from any 12-minute helping of this
Richard McGowan is a former White House
correspondent for the New York Daily News.